The Russian-made S-400 missile systems cannot harm NATO, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Ankara on Tuesday.
"There is no evidence proving that the S-400 systems will harm NATO or the F-45 aircraft," he said in a speech broadcast by the Haberturk TV channel. "For Turkey, the S-400 purchase is a completely commercial move," Erdogan added. He pointed out that Ankara had suggested establishing a joint Turkish-US commission to discuss Washington’s S-400 concerns, TASS reports.
At the same time, Erdogan said he expected the US to take "the right steps." "I hope that President Trump will act in the right way and will not let our bilateral relations become hostage of the S-400 issue," the Turkish leader pointed out.
News about Russian-Turkish talks on the delivery of the S-400 systems first came in November 2016. In September 2017, Erdogan announced that Ankara had signed a contract with Moscow on purchasing the S-400 systems and made an advance payment. Russia’s Rostec State Corporation Sergei Chemezov said in December 2017 that the deal was worth $2.5 bln.
The Turkish Defense Ministry announced the beginning of the S-400 deliveries on July 12.
The US said that the S-400 purchase made it impossible for Ankara to continue participating in the F-35 program, while NATO refused to plug Turkey’s S-400 into the Alliance’s air defense systems.
The S-400 Triumf (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) is the most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range ones, and can also be used against ground objectives. The S-400 system can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 35 km.